"Venture" Celebrates 50 Years of Literary Brio

Suffolk's literary magazine presents golden opportunities for student writers and artists.

When Venture‘s first editor ripped open the carton containing the inaugural edition of the new student literary magazine 50 years ago, he wasn’t sure whether the publication would be a one-off or perhaps survive until he graduated.

“On that day in 1968 … I went through the college leaving piles on windowsills and tabletops, all the while wondering if it would last another issue,” wrote Greg Wayland in a remembrance published for Venture’s 20th anniversary.

This year marks the golden anniversary of a magazine that has served as an outlet for generations of Suffolk writers and artists. Venture Editor-in-Chief Sofia Nicole Ohrynowicz, the latest in a long line of successors to Wayland, pored over past editions as she researched Venture’s first 50 years and saw how its contents reflect the history of Suffolk and American society.

“I loved reading the stories over the years and seeing how different the students’ focus was,” says Ohrynowicz, Class of 2018, an English major. “People were writing about war, peace, and civil rights in the beginning.”

Poetry, fiction & artwork

Ohrynowicz created an exhibit about Venture, now on display in the Sawyer Library’s student commons adjacent to the Moakley Archive, which has collected every edition of the literary magazine and supported her research for the presentation.

The exhibit helps lay the groundwork as Ohrynowicz gears up for April’s release of the 50th anniversary edition. She and Donovan Skepple, the magazine’s marketing manager, have been soliciting submissions by reaching out to campus clubs, posting on social media, and sponsoring open-mic nights.

“Events provide students and opportunity to express themselves and bring attention to their artistic talent,” says Skepple, Class of 2018, a public relations and marketing major. “It’s great if it also inspires them to submit.”

While the methods have changed, drumming up interest—and submissions—was a concern from Venture’s beginning. It took more than a year to plan for the first edition, and promoting to fellow students was one of the responsibilities Wayland took on 50 years ago:

“For selling purposes, I’d already talked up the school’s literary and artistic hunger into a famine and was relieved when a respectable group turned out for a meeting of interested students. There was talk of woodcuts, essays, poems—there was, in a word, interest,” wrote Wayland in the reminiscence published 30 years ago.

Practical experience

Ohrynowicz writes both fiction and nonfiction and dabbles in illustration. She began her career with Venture as a sophomore reviewing submissions, and last year she was social media editor.

But the wide range of activities she and Skepple engage in demonstrates just how much knowledge is gained through an activity that at first glance may seem more cerebral than practical. In addition to marketing and collaborative literary review,Venture editors work on fundraising, design, coordination with a printer, promotion, and distribution,

Like many of the Venture editors and contributors who followed him, Wayland drew on his leadership abilities and his facility with language in his profession. He was described as a “master story-teller” when he retired from NECN after a notable career in television news.

Another Venture alumnus, Dan Carey, Class of 2016, founded a literary and visual arts magazine—Paradise in Limbo, shortly after he graduated.

Carey’s experience also involved another literary journal published at Suffolk University—Salamander—whose editor-in-chief, English Department Scholar-in-residence Jennifer Barber, advises the Venture team.

Donovan Skepple and Sofia Nicole Ohrynowicz
Donovan Skepple and Sofia Nicole Ohrynowicz are spreading the word about the "Venture" 50th anniversary as they solicit contributions of poetry, fiction, and artwork.